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On Tuesday 3 July 2012, ARC Dorset, the county's sexual assault referral centre, opens its doors to provide multi-agency support to victims of rape and sexual assault – under one roof.
The centre – a partnership project led by Dorset Police and NHS Dorset and supported by Dorset Rape Crisis Support Centre – will provide victims with the help that they choose, including
-Health and welfare
-Police and forensics (if they decide to report).
Anyone – man, woman or child – who has been raped or sexually assaulted either recently or in the past, can contact ARC Dorset directly – as a self-referral – or come as a referral from the police or any other agency.
Self-referrals simply dial 0845 519 8638 to make an appointment or email email@example.com
Those that self-refer do not have to report the assault to the police. At ARC Dorset, they will be given all the necessary information so that they can make an informed choice about whether or not to do so. If they do decide to report the offence, they will be informed and supported throughout the process.
Detective Superintendent Sara Glen has been part of the partnership team integral to creating ARC Dorset. She said:
"At ARC Dorset, as the name suggests, we want victims to feel safe and sheltered at what is a very traumatic time for them.
"Dorset is a very safe county but those who do fall victim to rape and sexual assault deserve the highest quality of care possible from their multi-agency service providers. This is what ARC Dorset aims to provide.
"Whereas previously it would not have been clear to a victim the full range of service available to them following an attack, now
they can access multi-agency support by picking up the telephone to ARC Dorset. This means that, initially, when everything is still so raw they will not have to explain their story over and over again."
ARC Dorset is a partnership initiative with Dorset Police, NHS Dorset, local authorities and other statutory and voluntary organisations. It is provided by Harmoni for Health, an independent sector service provider.
David Hillier, ARC Dorset Manager, said:
"ARC Dorset provides comfortable and welcoming surroundings for victims of rape and sexual assault and their families or supporters. As well as providing access to crisis support, medical examination and advice and counselling referrals, we also try to focus on the smaller things that make a difference – like a cup of tea, a hot shower and a change of clothes.
"We ask anyone reading this to let as many people as possible know about ARC Dorset. We want victims of rape and sexual assault to come to see us to get the help that they need."
Dr Karen Kirkham, lead GP for Dorset Care Commissioning Group said:
"I am delighted that ARC Dorset is now open; this gives the NHS an opportunity to support individuals at a very difficult time, to encourage them to access sexual and other health services to meet their specific identified needs. It will also help us to meet one of our key strategic aims, to reduce health inequalities."